Frog of the Week

Three-striped Poison Frog (Ameerega trivittata)

photo by Geoff Gallice 

Common Name: Three-striped Poison Frog
Scientific Name: Ameerega trivittata
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Locations: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela
Size: 2 inches (50 mm) for females, 1.65 inches (42 mm)

The Three-striped Poison Frog is a diurnal species of frog found among the leaf litter in tropical rain forests. They are able to be active during the day thanks to their bright colors and their poison. The bright colors warn predators not to eat them due to their poison. They obtain their toxicity from the ants they eat in the wild. The stripes on the frog vary in color from green, yellow-green, yellow, to orange. Their beautiful colors make them attractive to pet owners. They lose their toxicity in captivity, making them safe. Always make sure to buy captive bred frogs from reputably breeders.

Reproduction happens year round but reaches its peak during the rainy season from May to October. Males will stake out territory on perches above the ground. The males will fight other males who enter their territory. Females select males on how long they have called on their territory and how large the territory is. Once the female selects a mate, the male will grasp the female from behind in amplexus. The female will lay the eggs under leaves and the male will then fertilize them. Females will lay between 15 – 30 eggs at a time.

photo by Shawn Mallan

The males of the species provide parental care for their offspring. The males will carry recently hatched tadpoles to water sources for them to live in until they complete their metamorphosis. The male will keep them on their backs for days until they find a spot. It takes the tadpoles between 41 to 54 days to complete their metamorphosis.

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Frog of the Week

Black Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis moreletii)

photo by  Sean Michael Rovito

Common Name: Black Eyed Tree Frog, Morelet’s Treefrog, or Black Eyed Leaf Frog
Scientific Name: Agalychnis moreletii
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Locations: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico
Size: females around 2.5 inches (64.2 mm), males around 2.3 inches (58.6 mm)

The Blacked Eyed Tree Frog is the less popular cousin of the Red Eyed Tree Frog. Like the Red Eyed Tree Frog, they are nocturnal, spending the day hiding on leaves off trees. The frogs can be found in the pet trade but most of them are wild caught. Buying wild caught frogs is wrong in my opinion. The species epithet moreletii is in honor of french naturalist and illustrator Pierre Marie Arthur Morelet. Morelet didn’t study frogs, he was actually really interested in mollusks.

During the rainy season, the males of the species will start to call on elevated areas around pools, lakes, and streams. The female frog will select a mate and the two will embrace in amplexus. The female will lay her eggs on rocks and leaves over hanging water and the male will fertilize them. The female lays between 50 to 70 eggs. Once the tadpoles hatch in 5 to 10 days, they fall right into the water to finish their metamorphosis. This stage of the metamorphosis takes around 55 days.

While the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List only lists the Black Eyed Tree Frog as Least Conservation of becoming extinct, the species is in trouble. It was formerly listed as Critically Endangered in 2004 due to Chytrid Fungus wiping out populations in Mexico. It was predicted the fungus would eliminate populations in other countries. So far, the disease hasn’t done that. The habitat of the frogs are fragmented and are endangered due to habitat destruction for farms and cities.

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Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)

photo by John Beniston

Common Name: Smooth Newt
Scientific Name: Lissotriton vulgaris
Family: Salamandridae
Locations: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom
Introduced Locations Australia
Size: 3.9 inches (10 cm)

The Smooth Newt is one of the most common amphibians found throughout temperate, forest areas in Europe. They are mostly terrestrial, only staying in water for extended periods of time during breeding season. They are also nocturnal, spending their days under logs and rocks. The newts do come out during rains during the day.

The Smooth Newt reproduces after the newt wake up from hibernation. The males and females move to ponds to breed. The males will grow out a wavy crest on their back to impress the females. The male will do a courtship dance to attract females. The males will deposit a sperm packet in the water and will lead a female over it during the courtship. The female will pick it up with her cloaca and bring it inside her to fertilize her eggs. A few days layer, the female will lay her eggs, as many as 300. Eggs hatch a few weeks later and larvae will appear. The larvae take a few months to complete their metamorphism, but some individuals may take over a year. These individuals will then have to survive in the water over winter.

In Australia, the Smooth Newt has established populations in the wild. It is believed the newts were released into the wild from a pet owner who didn’t want them anymore. Never do that please. Currently, it is not known if the newt is causing any serious environmental problems so the Australian Government isn’t actively trying to prevent their spread or eliminate them.

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Dixie Valley Toad (Anaxyrus williamsi)

photo by Kris Urquhart/USFWS

Common Name: Dixie Valley Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus williamsi
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – Nevada
Size: 2 inches (50.8 mm)

The Dixie Valley Toad is a relatively new species, only being described in 2017. Before, it was considered an isolated population of the Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas). Physical and genetic tests revealed that it was in fact, its own species. Dixie Valley Toad is physically different than the Western Toad. They have gold specks on its body and is smaller than the Western Toad.

Most life history of the Dixie Valley Toad is presumed to be similar to the Western Toad. They are a nocturnal species, living under rocks or burrowed in the dirt during the day. Reproduction is external. The males will call to attract females. Once the female selects a male, the male will grasp the female from behind. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. No parental care has been shown.

While only just described, the toad is already a candidate for the Endangered Species List. The exact number of toads are unknown but their range is small. Their habitat is already threatened by a geothermal energy plant that has plans to go up right next to it.

Frog of the Week

Marsh Frog (Pelophylax ridibundus)

photo by Charles J Sharp

Common Name: Marsh Frog
Scientific Name: Pelophylax ridibundus
Family: Ranidae – True Frog Family
Locations: Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Islamic Republic of, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.
Introduced Locations: Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom
Female Size: 6.7 inches (17 cm)
Male Size: 4.7 inches (12 cm)

The Marsh Frog is the largest frog native to Europe. Its found around the edges of rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams. They rarely ever move away from these shores. The frogs will start to breed at the beginning of spring. Like most frogs, the male Marsh Frogs will call to the female frogs from the shallows of the water. Once the female selects a mate, the male frog will grasp her from behind. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will then fertilize them. The female can lay between 670-13,000 eggs. Neither parent will provide any care for their offspring.

Marsh Frogs were introduced to Kent, England in the 1930s. Other populations of the frog have popped up in western London and the southwestern part of the country. Due to their size, they prey on native wildlife, potentially having problematic effects on the native populations. The frogs could also be spreading chytrid fungus, a deadly pathogen, around the country.

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Sonoran Green Toad (Anaxyrus retiformis)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Sonoran Green Toad, Pima Green Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus retiformis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad Family
Locations: Mexico and the United States
US Locations: Arizona
Size: 1.5 – 2 inches (40 – 49 mm)

The Sonoran Green Toad is known for their yellow / green spots on the dark black background. The toad has lived over 15 years in captivity, which is relatively long for a toad. They are a highly fossorial frog, spending most of their days underground.

Once the summer rains come, the male Sonoran Green Toad comes to temporary filled pools to breed. The males will start to call from grass surrounding the pools to attract females. They are known as explosive breeders due to them only mating for a few days compared to weeks like other frogs. The females will carry the male from the grasses to the water where the females will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The two toads will then part ways and provide no care for the offspring. Females will lay between 5 to 200 eggs. The eggs will hatch into tadpoles in 2 – 3 days. Then, the tadpoles take 2 to 3 weeks to complete their metamorphosis.

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Little Grass Frog (Pseudacris ocularis)

photo by Todd Pierson

Common Name: Little Grass Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris ocularis
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: United States – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Size: .4 – .7 inches (11 – 20 mm)

The Little Grass Frog is the smallest frog in all of North America. While it is technically in the Tree Frog family – Hylidae, they are not as arboreal as other species of tree frogs. They can still climb up to 5 feet high.

Breeding takes place for the Little Grass Frog from January to September in most of their range but in Florida, they can breed all year long. Breeding generally follows heavy rain events. They lay their eggs in shallow, rain-filled wetlands, ditches, and ponds. Reproduction is pretty standard for the frog. Males will call out from the rain-filled areas, trying to attract females. Females will select a male and then they will mate. The females lay around 100 eggs. How do these females carry all those eggs at their small size? I don’t know. Neither of the parents will perform any care for their offspring.

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European Green Toad (Bufotes viridis)

euro_green_toad.jpg
photo by Umberto Salvagnin

Common Name: European Green Toad
Scientific Name: Bufotes viridis
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the Ukraine
Size: 4.7 inches (120 mm)

The European Green Toad is a beautiful toad found in varies habitats throughout Europe including forests, steppes, and deserts. Like most toads, the Green Toad is mostly fossorial, spending their time burrowed underground. They are estimated to live as long as 10 years.

The European Green Toad can reproduce in a wide range of habitats, including ponds, swamps, stream pools, and lakes. Most toads and frogs can only breed in fresh water while the Green Toad can breed in fresh and brackish (slightly salty) water. The reproduction season is wide ranging from February to July depending on location. Males will call from the shallows to attract females. Males and females will pair up in amplexus position. The females will lay their eggs and males will then fertilize them. The females can live between 5,000 and 13,000 eggs.

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Southern Torrent Salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus)

Photo by James Bettaso, U.S. Fish & Wildlife service

Common Name: Southern Torrent Salamander
Scientific Name: Rhyacotriton variegatus
Family: Rhyacotritonidae – Torrent Salamander family
Locations: United States – California and Oregon
Size: Snout to Vent: 1.5 – 2.4 inches (41 – 62 mm) | Full Length: 3 – 4.5 inches ( 75 – 115 mm)

The Southern Torrent Salamander is found in and around cold, clears streams in old, growth conifer forests along the coast of Oregon and California. They have highly reduced lungs and use their skin to absorb oxygen. Cold water is high in oxygen, which makes it an ideal spot for the salamanders. The Southern Torrent Salamanders are threatened by the clear cutting of old growth forests and the draining of springs and seeps.

The reproductive season for the Southern Torrent Salamander is long, ranging from spring all the way to fall. All members of the family Rhyacotritonidae use internal fertilization. Peak egg laying time is in August and September. Only a few eggs are laid, between 4 to 16 eggs. The eggs take a long time to hatch, up to 8 months. The larval period is also long, as it can last more than 2 years.

Frog of the Week

Coquí Llanero (Eleutherodactylus juanariveroi)

photo by the USFWS

Common Name: Coquí Llanero, Plains Coquí, or Puerto Rican Wetland Frog
Scientific Name: Eleutherodactylus juanariveroi
Family: Eleutherodactylidae
Locations: Puerto Rico
Average Male Size: .58 inches (14.7 mm)
Average Female Size: .62 inches (15.8 mm)

The Coquí Llanero was only recently in 2005 by Neftalí Rios. It is found only in the wetlands in a old navy base in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Sadly, it is already listed as a federal endangered species and as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. They are listed due to their small habitat that is threatened by development. The wetlands have been designed as critical habitat but that offers little protection.

Now onto the biology of the frog. Like all members of the family Eleutherodactylidae, the Coquí Llanero lays eggs that directly develop into froglets, skipping the tadpole stage. Though, they lay one of the smallest clutches of eggs, ranging from 1 to 5. Interestingly, they only lay their eggs on the leaves of the Bulltongue Arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia). Breeding can happen year round though more clutches are produced in the warmer, wetter months. The call of the Coquí Llanero is the highest frequency of all amphibians on Puerto Rico, ranging between 7.38 and 8.28 kHz. This makes the calls nearly impossible to hear over all the other noises in the wetlands.